Thursday, March 14, 2013

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

Playing at the World by Jon Peterson:
When the subtitle of a book is "A History of Simulating Wars, People, and Fantastic Adventure From Chess to Role Playing Games", you should probably know what you're getting into. I asked for this book for Christmas, because I still have never played a game of Dungeons and Dragons, and thought it would be an interesting historical survey. Unfortunately, this history of simulating is not a history of stimulating. It's not so much a survey as it is an exhaustive detailed record of every single thing that has ever happened. It's taken me three months to get through the first two hundred pages and I think that Gary Gygax is going to be born soon. As a well-researched scholarly treatise, it deserves praise, but as pleasure reading, it rolls a one-sided die into tedium.

Final Grade: C-

The Office, Season Eight:
The first post-Michael-Scott season of The Office seemed to be universally reviled by the world, but it's actually not that bad. I expected a season matching the low points of the fifth, sixth, and seventh seasons, but was pleasantly surprised. Without Steve Carell, the rest of the cast has more time to shine, and several episodes seemed to bring back the heart of early seasons. Yes, there are some stupidly contrived situations and several dropped subplots, but it's entertaining overall.

Final Grade: B-

Origin of Love by Mika:
Mika's third album refines his over-the-top bombastic pop gimmick down to highly polished marble. Every song is enjoyable and catchy, but the edges have been smoothed down so much that it doesn't feel quite as fun as previous albums. Slightly overproduced, but still worth a listen.

Final Grade: B

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